rn: British TV admits this is a war for oil


Jan Slakov

Dear Renaissance Network,

It's great to know about that walk for peace and the coverage it got; going
on such a walk is not practical for most of us but there's plenty we can do
to help.

I just wrote a letter-to-the-editor based on information in the posting
below. I hope it might inspire other letters!

all the best, Jan
PS I think this is much more than a "war for oil", actually; Richard's "war
on humanity" is closer to the mark. ...Once again I would like to recommend
John McMurtry's "The Ultimate Big Lie": 
a "must read" in my opinion.
to: •••@••.•••
subject: War on "Terror"?

Dear Editor,

Respect for law and for basic human rights are essential for protecting
democracy. Is not democracy more important than access to what is left of
the world's oil supplies? War fervour is blinding us to the real reasons and
effects of the so-called "war on terror".

On Oct. 25 reporter Liam Halligan stated on British TV that “The Gulf War
was largely about oil. You won’t hear it said often but, inadvertently, this
one is too.” Articles in _The Guardian_ also support the argument that an
underlying reason for the war in Afghanistan is to allow oil companies to
build a pipeline through the country to tranport Caspian oil to markets.

I was pleased by the editorial (Dec. 14) in favour of a fair trial for a
Sept. 11 attack suspect. Unfortunately, no such trial was granted the
Taliban or the people of Afghanistan. But will the trial be fair? The FBI is
known to have lied before, (eg. in securing the extradition of Leonard Peltier).

In the absence of respect for law, it is up to the media and the citizenry
to investigate the real truth about this war.

Sincerely, Jan Slakov, Weymouth, NS B0W 3T0

Note: My letter was also prompted by a radio report that the FBI is hoping
to have more presence in Canada :(
From: magellan <•••@••.•••>
Date: Sun, 28 Oct 2001 23:34:51 -0200
Subject: British TV admits this is a war for oil

World Socialist Web Site 


WSWS : News & Analysis : The US War in Afghanistan

Britain: Reports admit this is a war for oil

By Chris Marsden
27 October 2001

Britain’s media has hardly distinguished itself during the US bombing of
Afghanistan, other than for its willingness to parrot the official line
emanating from Washington and London. But it has proved increasingly
difficult for the press barons to maintain a united journalistic front.

A combination of factors—the growing concern within Europe over the
direction of the US campaign, or lack of it; a fear that the US will be the
sole beneficiary of the war; and even a reaction against the mounting
absurdities that constitute the official raison d’être for targeting
Afghanistan—have given rise to a number of reports that depart from the
formulaic invocation that the ongoing military campaign is “a war against

The most significant of these reports was an item on the October 25 edition
of Channel Four television’s flagship seven o’clock news programme.
Reporter Liam Halligan was introduced by the programme’s anchorman posing
the question, “But is there another, less well advertised motive for the
bombing of Afghanistan?” Halligan answered in the affirmative, adding,
“The Gulf War was largely about oil. You won’t hear it said often but,
inadvertently, this one is too.”

Halligan called oil “an important subtext to the struggle over

He noted that the US, which consumes 22 million barrels a day, is by far
the world’s biggest oil importer. He remarked upon the present reliance
on the Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, which produces seven million
barrels a day, but also drew attention to the production of four and a half
million barrels a day in the former Soviet Union.

Halligan continued, “Apart from Russia, it’s these newly independent
Central Asian states that are key. Already 20 billion barrels of oil
reserves have been found in Khazakhstan—and there could be much more. The
oil and gas so far discovered in these parts is worth $3 trillion dollars
in today’s prices.”

Getting this oil to Western markets was, Halligan stated, “the
culmination of the Great Game. The struggle for influence in Central Asia
is the last great oil rush, as the West tries to reduce dependence on the

Channel Four went on to explain the importance of Afghanistan in this
regard. Russia had built its own pipeline from Kazakhstan to the Black Sea.
In order to compete, Western oil corporations could build pipelines along a
number of routes. But by far the most economical would be from Central Asia
through Afghanistan, to Pakistan.

That, said Halligan, was “a major reason the US unofficially backed the
Taliban in the mid-90s, when American oil men were planning such a
pipeline. But when the Taliban turned it’s back on Uncle Sam, Western oil
money got scared.”

As well as Channel Four’s coverage, two articles have appeared in the
Guardian newspaper that deserve to be noted. The Guardian, which is
considered home to Britain’s liberal intelligentsia, is generally
supportive of the war, but critical of certain aspects of its conduct. This
was reflected in an op-ed piece by the radical environmentalist George
Monbiot entitled “America’s pipe dream”, which sets out to explain
how “A pro-Western regime in Kabul should give the US an Afghan route for
Caspian oil”.

Monbiot takes pains to reassure Guardian readers that he is on-message as
far as the Labour government’s rationale for supporting the war is
concerned. He concludes his article with the bizarre couplet, “I believe
that the US government is genuine in its attempt to stamp out terrorism by
military force in Afghanistan, however misguided that may be. But we would
be naïve to believe that this is all it is doing.”

The first statement is an expression of Monbiot’s political cowardice,
for his entire article contradicts the Bush administration’s claim to be
motivated by a desire to “stamp out terrorism”. Again facing both ways
at once, Monbiot insists, “The invasion of Afghanistan is certainly a
campaign against terrorism, but it may also be a late colonial
adventure.” He explains, “Afghanistan has some oil and gas of its own,
but not enough to qualify as a major strategic concern. Its northern
neighbours, by contrast, contain reserves, which could be critical to
future global supply. In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then
chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked: ‘I cannot
think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as
strategically significant as the Caspian.’ But the oil and gas there is
worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and
economic sense is through Afghanistan.”

The West’s options for moving oil are limited by its desire to prevent a
strengthening of either Russia or Iran. It has an added benefit, in that
“pipelines through Afghanistan would allow the US both to pursue its aim
of ‘diversifying energy supply’ and to penetrate the world’s most
lucrative markets” in south Asia.

Monbiot’s article acknowledges a debt to the work of Ahmed Rashid, the
author of the recently published, Taliban—Militant Islam, Oil and
Fundamentalism in Central Asia, and a correspondent for the Far Eastern
Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph. Rashid documents how in 1995, the
US oil company Unocal started negotiating to build oil and gas pipelines
from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan to Pakistan and on to the Arabian
sea. This required “a single administration in Afghanistan, which would
guarantee safe passage for its goods.” Monbiot notes, “Soon after the
Taliban took Kabul in September 1996, the Telegraph reported that ‘oil
industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan
is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America’s, has
been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced
in its conquest of Afghanistan.”

Relations with the Taliban were only broken off two years later, after the
US embassy bombings in east Africa. But US designs on Afghanistan
continued. Monbiot cites a statement by the US energy information
administration immediately prior to the September 11 outrages:
“Afghanistan’s significance from an energy standpoint stems from its
geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas
exports from central Asia to the Arabian sea. This potential includes the
possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through
Afghanistan”. He concludes his examination, with the related observation,
“If the US succeeds in overthrowing the Taliban and replacing them with a
stable and grateful pro-Western government and if the US then binds the
economies of central Asia to that of its ally Pakistan, it will have
crushed not only terrorism, but also the growing ambitions of both Russia
and China. Afghanistan, as ever, is the key to the western domination of

The next day, Andy Rowell wrote in the Guardian on the same theme in his
article “Route to riches”. He begins, “As the war in Afghanistan
unfolds, there is frantic diplomatic activity to ensure that any
post-Taliban government will be both democratic and pro-West. Hidden in
this explosive geo-political equation is the sensitive issue of securing
control and export of the region’s vast oil and gas reserves.”

Rowell draws attention to an article in Military Review, the journal of the
US army, which states, “As oil companies build oil pipelines from the
Caucasus and central Asia to supply Japan and the West, these strategic
concerns gain military implications.” He cites Unocal’s insistence that
“construction of the pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government
is in place in Kabul that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and
our company.”

All three reports are based on information that is both freely available
and common knowledge within the media and the political establishment.
Indeed Rowell described Rashid’s work on the Taliban and the US as “the
book Tony Blair has been reportedly reading since the conflict started.”
Far from saving the mass media from opprobrium, therefore, these reports
stand as an indictment of a more general readiness to regurgitate whatever
lies and propaganda they are asked to by the powers that be.


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